Orhan Pamuk, Turkey’s Nobel prize-winning author, has criticized the Turkish government’s decision to convert Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia into a mosque.
“There are millions of secular Turks like me who are crying against this but their voices are not heard,” he told the BBC on July 10.
“To convert it back to a mosque is to say to the rest of the world unfortunately we are not secular anymore,” he said, adding that Ankara’s move took away the “pride” some Turkish citizens had in being a secular Muslim nation.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on July 10 opened Hagia Sophia to Muslim worship after the Council of State – the highest administrative court in the country – ruled that the building’s conversion to a museum by modern Turkey’s founding statesman was illegal.
In a televised address, Erdoğan said that the first prayers at the iconic sixth-century structure will be held on July 24.
“With this court ruling, and with the measures we took in line with the decision, Hagia Sophia became a mosque again, after 86 years, in the way Fatih the conqueror of Istanbul had wanted it to be,” he said.